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GASP! My Dog Has Asthma

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It is always amazing how much we have in common with our dogs. We look alike, we pant when we run, we like chasing cats, and belly rubs, and we get asthma. Ok, maybe that last one is not so fun. Though dogs get asthma just like their human companions, it presents itself a bit differently and the treatment is different. Always remember, they are dogs and we are humans, what is good for us is very often not good for them.

FACT: Dog asthma tends to affect young and middle aged dogs, though older dogs can be affected, it is less likely.

Just like in humans, asthma can be very serious. For many dogs it is often a dry hacking cough that is persistent. It can be an occasional breathing problem or a very severe breathing problem that can lead to suffocation.

Symptoms of Asthma in Dogs

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheezing
  • Breathing problems (aka. Dyspnea)
  • Open-mouth breathing
  • Dry, hacking cough
  • “Blue” gums
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Lack of interest in exercise
  • Lack of appetite
  • Weight loss

Any time your dog is having great difficulty breathing, or difficulty breathing over a long period of time, you need to get them into a vet immediately.

How Do You Get Dog Asthma?

Dog asthma, also called chronic allergic bronchitis, is most common in small dogs, though all breeds are susceptible.

This is a list of common allergens that can lead to chronic allergic bronchitis:

  • Smoke: Tobacco, fireplace, or wood stove
  • Perfume
  • Air fresheners
  • Household cleaners
  • Pesticides or fertilizer
  • Air pollution
  • Pollen
  • Mold spores
  • Particles from cat litter (see, your dog was right, the cat is out to get them)

How to Prevent Asthma in Dogs

Dog asthma is not always reversible so the best treatment is prevention.

  • Give your dog regular baths so any exposure allergens that can stick to their coat is cleaned off.
  • Don’t smoke near your pets. If you must smoke, please do it outside and away from your pets. This includes vaping.
  • Upgrade your wood burning stove for a pellet stove and convert your fireplace from log to gas or fake glowing logs. – Ok, we know that for most of us this is an unrealistic request. If you can’t do this, then make sure to get your chimney swept and exhaust pipes cleaned. If your fires are properly ventilated you will greatly decrease smoke exposure, and it will keep your house safer from fire.
  • Do not let your dog out for a couple days after you have been using fertilizer.
  • Use natural cleaners around your house.
  • Don’t wear perfume when not needed, or use essential oils.
  • Install air purifiers to reduce the air pollution in your home.
  • Make sure your evaporative cooler pads are not moldy and replaced as recommended by the manufacturer.
  • Use dust free cat litter.

Treating Asthma in Dogs

The most important treatment option for dog asthma is removing the source of the allergen. If you do not remove the source of the allergen, it is more likely that your dog will continue to suffer. If you are not sure what is causing the asthma, you can speak with your Albuquerque vet and they will help you figure it out.

If removing the allergen is not enough to clear up the symptoms, or cannot be identified, your vet may prescribe a medication to help manage their symptoms. If your dog escalates to chronic asthma then some of the symptoms, such as the cough, will never fully dissipate.

Some of the treatments may include bronchodilators to reduce the severity of the attacks. These are given through an inhaler which fits over your dogs mouth. If there is an infection, he may be prescribed an antibiotic and a cough suppressant.

Asthma is not common in dogs. If you are concerned that your dog may have asthma, call your Albuquerque veterinary clinic to make an appointment to have them evaluated. Asthma can be very serious and should not be overlooked.